Why Smart Girls Give Up

Like most creative women, I balance creating art, with work, friends, love and family. Yet after producing The Women's Image Network (WIN) Awards thirteen times (which has been an epic Sisyphean challenge), despite mighty resistance and frequent pushback, I am compelled still to support girls and women. Though this Dharma-like task often seems misguided, and though my ego wants me to just focus on my own artistic pursuits, I want to see women attain economic and social parity, But I need encouragement, and so sought a resuscitating reason to do so.

As I now produce a fourteenth WIN awards show scheduled for December 2012, I found my lifeline, and got a boost from an article by Heidi Grant Halvorson, entitled "The Trouble With Bright Girls," in which Dr. Halvorson asserted that for women, "ability doesn't always lead to confidence" because even if we remove all external disadvantages preventing women from becoming leaders, including opportunity inequality and stereotypical media messages women will continue to confront a mistaken belief that a woman's strengths is her Achilles Heel. In her research Dr. Halverson "found that bright girls, when given something to learn that was particularly foreign or complex, [these girls] were quick to give up." Remarkably the study showed that "the higher the girls' IQ, the more likely they were to throw in the towel.

In fact, the straight-A girls showed the most helpless responses. Bright boys, on the other hand, saw the difficult material as a challenge, and found it energizing. They were more likely to redouble their efforts, rather than giving up."

Why does this happen? Is it the barrage of mean media images? What makes these girls more vulnerable and feel less confident? Halvorson found that

the only difference was how bright boys and girls interpreted difficulty... Bright girls were much quicker to doubt their ability, to lose confidence, and to become less effective learners as a result.... Bright girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.

Girls become women and as adults they continue to confront their perceived inadequacies.

Despite our best efforts, the majority of people don't understand what are The Women's Image Network Awards. So I sometimes call The WIN Awards "the NAACP media awards but for women." Most people know that the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. And the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People aims "to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination."

The WIN Awards show doesn't simply applaud actors, writers, directors, producers and media which advance dimensional female media images. The WIN Awards are a media advocacy instrument designed to level the playing field for all women.

Thanks to the work of Dr. Halvorson, I march on to fight female media stereotypes. I am honored to see so many exceptional media artists expressing female depth and dimension. I appreciate increased and ample entertainment community participation. Now men and women no longer fear the feminist moniker and speak out against sexism. Everybody has a mother (and some have daughters, sisters, and girlfriends). So, I welcome the support which helps WIN, a grassroots media advocacy company, fulfill its goals. Sisyphus be damned.